People tell me time and time again that I was born in the wrong country. Given my love affair with New York, I’m starting to believe it.
My adoration for this city started at the tender age of 13 and no matter how long I left it until my next visit, my enthusiasm for the big apple never dwindled.
Recently I made two trips there in the space of three months. The first, in October, was my first time there after eight years – how I stayed away for so long I’ll never know. It was probably the most unforgettable of visits. Unlike my previous holidays where I’m usually scuttled from family to family, I was free to roam and wander around the city. I arranged to stay in Manhattan with an aunt who gave me the same home comforts that I was use to and the freedom I never really had when visiting. My homesickness barely made an appearance.
One on one time
It dawned on me that despite my frequent visits to New York as a child and teen, I hadn’t experienced a fraction of the city. I had never seen the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial, the Met Museum! So it was decided. I would become a tourist for a week.
Believe me when I say it was probably one of the best weeks I’ve ever experienced. Seeing Lady Liberty up close, the Lion King on Broadway and even shooting guns in Pennsylvania were just a handful of delights that filled my week. Even the cityline that emerged when crossing the Queensboro Bridge was even more stunning in real life than any picture I had seen. Sure, it’s made up of high rise buildings, just like London, but there’s something innately different.
The energy is infectious, the air is wild with opportunity and you just feel like the possibilities are endless – plus they’re really fond of our accent.
More than just a concrete jungle
You don’t even have to indulge in the city to experience some breathtaking moments. Autumnally coloured trees lined our way to Pennsylvania and a brief exit from the highway led to such a serene and peaceful view. My picture above just doesn’t do it justice.
New York has always been synonymous with important life lessons for me – both good and bad. It was where I realised I wanted to focus my career on writing, not broadcast (not yet at least). It was proof that if I wanted something bad enough, I could achieve it. I’ve had my heart broken there but I’ve also been shown that I can open up myself and my heart to people when I thought I had shut off completely. That was quite the realisation.
December’s visit allowed me to venture out alone and spend some one on one time with the city. As tempted as I was to be meticulous and map my route, I put my phone away and just wandered wherever my instincts took me. I stumbled upon a stall outside Central Park along 5th Avenue, kind of like a concession, of Strand Bookstore. The next day I would spend over half an hour in their flagship store just falling more in love with every book I passed.
Travelling on the MTA nearly became second nature to me and getting shouted at by a homeless person for not giving her money was met with absolute glee given I was overly happy to just be in Grand Central Station, (pictured above) which was wearing its festive Christmas decorations. She probably thought I was the biggest weirdo.
Since returning to London I think my holiday blues have transitioned to a state known to the Portuguese as ‘Saudade’ – a deep emotional state of nostalgic or melancholic longing for an absent object, place or individual you love. It’s the closest way I can describe how I feel every time I return to the UK.
I tell people that I don’t really write as eloquently about London, nor do my eyes light up the same way. They definitely question how I can be so enthused about New York, only to return themselves, eyes opened to the reality that they too may have found a home away from home.